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My Childhood Role Model

When “Old One” and “the Blight” are mentioned: which characters are these?

How To Use Bureaucracies

The word “aligned” is being used here in a way that seems subtly different than what I’ve heard before. A quick definition and/or link to the place(s) this usage comes from would be really useful.

Moving to a World Beyond “p < 0.05”

I haven’t ever seen an academic article so direct and even sardonic, especially not one railing against such an established practice. I guess that’s what a Molotov cocktail looks like in print.

That wasn’t just clear and impactful, it was fun to read. Thanks for linking, lifelonglearner.

The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism)


Also...I think it still may need a fix: paragraph 11 now reads

normative way; that you should wire it the way I say just because,

but I think you want to swap the comma with the semi-colon:

normative way, that you should wire it the way I say just because;

The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism)

This is fantastic and absolutely the conversation I want to be having.

Ditto on everything Qiaochu_Yuan said. Huge thanks for writing this, Romeo.

Two typo fixes that would have saved me a headache:

Paragraph 11:

normative way. Like you should wire

I think you meant “normative way, like you should wire”

Second-to-last paragraph:

Though the Buddha taught one specific concentration technique and a series of simple insight techniques, but there are probably a dozen

I think you meant to omit either “Though” or “but”

What does it mean to "believe" a thing to be true?

When something is accepted as true, then observations to the contrary become surprising. So, if I’m surprised to find it raining out, then I’d assumed it was going to be sunny.

I think you’re exactly right that distinguishing between what people claim, and then what they turn out to actually expect, is the important thing here. My argument is that alief/belief (or belief in belief), as terms, make this harder. I just used the words “claim” and “expectation”, and I would be immensely surprised if anyone misunderstands me. (To be redundant to the point of silliness: I claim that’s my expectation.)

“Belief” has, I think, lost any coherent definition. It seems now, not to refer to expectations, but to mean “I want to expect X.” Or to be a command: “model me as expecting X.” Whenever it’s used, I have to ask “what do you mean you believe it?” and the answer is often “I think it’s true”; but then when I say “what do you mean, you think it’s true?”, the answer is often “I just think it’s true”, or “I choose to think it’s true”. So it always hits a state somewhere on the continuum between “meaningless” and “deceptive”.

Words like “claim”, “expectation”, or even “presume”—as in, “I choose to presume this is true”—all work fine. But belief is broken, and alief implies all we need is to add another word on top. My claim is that we need, instead, less words: merely the ones that remain meaningful, rather than acting as linguistic shields against meaning.

Like u/gworley, I’m not a fan of the alief/belief distinction. I take a slightly different tack: I think that belief, and related terms, are just poorly defined. I find it easier to talk about expectations.

“Expectations” is, I think, a term best operationalized as “things that surprise a person if they don’t happen, while not surprising said person if they do happen.” (I started thinking of this due to the “invisible dragon” from the Sequences.)

It’s empirically testable whether a person is non-plussed—sometimes this might be hard to notice, but almost always, they register some quick change in body language/facial expression, and more importantly, have to pause and generate new ideas, because they’ve fallen into a gap in their previous ones.

A person can say “I believe democracy is the best form of government”, and mean a whole bunch of things by it. Including merely “I want to live in a democracy.” They can also say “I believe 2+2=4”...and yet be amazed when someone takes two groups of two apples, combines them, and counts them all to total four apples. Saying “I believe” seems like it has many possible meanings, which are all best communicated by other words—and the primary one seems to be expectations. So rather than keep the ill-defined word belief and create a new word to specify some other imprecise category, let’s just be more precise. We already have enough words for that—alief is too many, and so is belief.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B)

Hello! I'm Ryan; some of you may know me from the Boston or NYC meetups, or from my excursions to the Bay. I'm finally getting around to really using this account; anything that I posted more than a year or so ago can be safely ignored, or laughed at if you're in the mood for a chuckle. I'm hoping to primarily focus on longevity research and how people can work together well on things in general; currently collecting info to try and make a general post about the current state of the field. I'm thoroughly a layperson in most regards--I have a BA in psych and a bit of a knack for cold reading and general Hufflepuffing, but that's about my whole skillset. Well: also meaning well and being quick to learn/update. I'm kinda proud of that. But still, I'm by no means the sharpest or most expert; I just tend to stick to things until I figure them out.

So: pleasure to (cyber) meet you, and hi again to people I already know!

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